Everywhere I go, I see ruin, I see desolation, I see URBEX By Carl Jones

Things to photograph


  • Old mining houses around the lake.
  • Dramatic landscape surrounding lake and old quarry
  • Old slate mill at YnysyPandy
  • Old church and graveyard and nearby Llanfihangel-y-pennant
  • Seals off the coast


Special Equipment


  • Tripod (as with anywhere in North Wales)
  • Good walking shoes/boots and waterproof clothes (gets quite marshy in places)
  • Wide-angle lens to really take in the scale of the place.


Best times to go there.

Personally, I prefer this location when it’s cloudy and overcast. I’ve been there during sunny days, but the lack of any real drama in the sky doesn’t really convey a sense of drama to the location, especially if you are photographing the quarry or any of the older houses on the footpath.

The Others” By Carl Jones

As always though, I’m a big fan of night photography, and some excellent images can be had at the old slate mill nearby, although I’m yet to manage to head to the actual lake at Cwmystradllyn at night.

Special Photographic Features or Notes

Llyn Cwmystradllyn

The lake (or reservoir) itself is relatively (yes, I’ve got lost a few times) easy to find, but the footpath around the lake does tend to vanish at times, leaving you wondering which way to go. However, this often leads you to some magical sights, there are a few wooden footbridges over the streams that lead into the lake which are quite nice.

Scrambling to get to the top” By Carl Jones

There is a way to get to the footpath by following the driveway to the only occupied house you can see, the footpath there will lead you past some ruined farmhouses, and through a small woodland towards the old quarry houses.

Out of the shadows” By Carl Jones

The quarry at the top of the footpath is accessile along the footpath mentioned above, or by following the stream and the field walls up from the end of the lake.

On the wire” By Carl Jones

The Slate mill at Ynysypandy

On your way up to the lake you will have no doubt noticed a huge ruin on the side of a hill, this is the ruin of the Ynysypandy slate mill.

“Built in 1855 to serve the Gorseddau quarry, the ruin has arched windows and is reminiscent of a ruined abbey or cotton mill. It is unusual because most slate mills had only one floor. However, the venture was not a success and the mill closed after a few years. The huge pit for the waterwheel is the main internal feature. It is now an ancient monument.”

Most Haunted” By Carl Jones

“Unlike many of the surviving slate mills in North Wales, Ynys y Pandy was built specifically to process slate slab rather than roofing slate; the industrial production of roofing slates in mills was in its infancy when the Gorseddau line was built, and they were generally produced entirely by hand within the main quarry workings. Slab was extensively used for many purposes, such as flooring, window sills, and gravestones, and its preparation involved sawing, planing, and in some cases polishing. Slab production is perhaps more commonly associated with the type of slate rock extracted further south, for instance around Corris and Aberllefenni, and the generally very high-grade slate found in northern Snowdonia was usually split into roofing slates. It is thus possible that the decision to concentrate on slab production from the Gorseddau Quarry, whose rock was of most inferior quality, was the single apparently sensible element of the plans.”

Glow Box Revisited (literally)” By Carl JonesLlanfihangel-y-PennantI stumbled on this place purely by accident one day, as it happens, I was trying to find the mill at Ynysypandy at the time! But this is well worth a visit, a small church nestled at the base of the hills.
Llanfihangle-y-Pennant IR1” By Carl JonesThe cemetery at the church isn’t particular well maintained but safe to wonder around without disturbing anything or falling over. I’m yet to visit the church when it’s actually been open to see inside though.
The Watcher” By Carl JonesThere is also a lovely little bridge over a river, which when the water levels are high makes for some wonderful long-exposure images as the water cascades over the rocks and riverbank.History of the Gorseddau QuarryThe quarry that brought all the work to the area, the Gorseddau Quarry was a rather short-lived venture. A small quarry existed on this site when, in 1845, Robert Gill of Mansfield and John Harris of Darlington took out a lease on the land at a cost of £2000 in the name of the recently floated Bangor & Portmadoc Slate and Slate Slab Company. During the next few years well over £200,000 of investors’ money was spent on the quarry, £160,000 on this site, £22,000 on the Gorseddau tramway and the remainder on the Ty Mawr Ynyspandy slab mill SH5443 and on workers’ housing at Treforus SH5645. The quarry never made a profit and the venture collapsed in 1867. One individual who did well out of the project was Daniel Griffith “Danial Bach y meinar” who with his team was responsible for opening the levels. He used to take weeks off to go shooting and fishing with the local gentry, staying at the best hotel in Porthmadog. After the collapse of Gorseddau he moved to Hendre Ddu quarry and continued the high life.AccessThe easiest location to park at is Llyn Cwmystradllyn. Following the road up to the reservoir there is an actual car park just before you enter the public access gate. From here you can either go through the gate and wonder around the lake that way (turn right), or head back up the road about 1/4 mile and take the public footpath at the side of the house (watch out for the loud barking dogs :p).Ynysypandy has parking for a single car just about 100metres from the gated entrance to the public footpath. There is also room for a car near the red telephone box outside, but failing that there’s not much room to park.If you are heading to Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, then your options are to park anywhere you can along the side of the road (there are plenty of places to do so) as there is no car park.For those on foot, all 3 sites are publicly accessible via footpaths.Getting there.I’m unsure if there are any buses which head up to these locations, I did have a look at the traveline-Cymru website but couldn’t find a definite route.Here is a google map link on which I have marked all the locations above + parking informationRoute by carThe GPS position for YnysyPandy is N 52° 58.096 W 004° 09.674It’s not the easiest place to find (especially at night) so please plan your route carefully. It’s easy enough to get to the A487 from either direction. As you approach dolbenmaen (or penforfa if you’re coming from porthmadog) you’ll notice a sign for  a woolen mill. If coming from Caernarfon take that exit and go past the woolen mill (keeping it on your right), then take the next left at a small set of houses and stay on that road until you see signs for Ynysypandy + cwmystradllyn.If coming from Porthmadog, take the same route, following towards the woolen mill, but after getting off the A487 you need to take the right when you reach a row of houses (there is a sign there for ynyspandy).
click on the image for larger version

Author Bio

Carl Jones

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